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06 May 2017, 02:23 | Katrina Lee
Yet in announcing his first foreign trip itinerary Thursday, which includes stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, Trump said he chose Saudi Arabia as his first stop precisely because it's the home of two of the holiest sites in Islam. Trump also met with Catholic cardinals earlier Thursday ahead of his trip to the Vatican.
These stops are in addition to Trump attending a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 meeting in Italy on May 26.
"That is why I am proud to make a major and historic announcement this morning and share with you that my first foreign trip as president will be to Saudi Arabia, then Israel, then the Vatican in Rome".
Although the kingdom is a long-time USA ally, Trump will be the first president since Jimmy Carter not to visit Canada or Mexico first. Trump's visit will be historic "by every measure", Jubeir said, noting that Saudi Arabia is the indispensable partner for Trump's regional goals, in addition to being a key US investor and trading partner.
Trump has asked Israel to limit its building of Jewish settlements on land the Palestinians want for a state.
"The goal of this meeting is really to bring together all of the different countries and all of the different religions in the fight against intolerance and to defeat radicalism", one senior Administration official said at the White House.
"Whether he can or can't" achieve what others could not, "it's our job to try", one official said.
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But the Saudis' main shared interest with the administration is their joint antipathy toward Iran, Riyadh's main rival for regional influence.
Trump on Wednesday hosted Abbas at the White House, pledging to help end the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
The trip will end with Trump's return to Italy for the G7 summit on May 26 and 27.
Trump is expected to visit with Pope Francis during his stop at the Vatican.
"For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful".
Their relationship got off to a rocky start when, during the USA presidential campaign, Francis famously said that anyone who wants to build a wall to keep out foreigners is "not Christian".
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